Train to Busan (Busanhaeng) is a 2016 Korean action horror-thriller film directed by Sang-Ho Yeon and stars Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jeong, Woo-sik Choi, Sohee, Dong-seok Ma, Eui-sung Kim
“While a zombie-virus breaks out in South Korea, a couple of passengers struggle to survive on the train from Seoul to Busan.”
Hollywood has introduced us to the zombie sub-genre in horror films, and it has been something that we have loved for years thanks to the likes of George A. Romero and others who have brought it to the screen with flair and distinction. Sadly though, that juice has been missing even if we had seen some features that were worthy of becoming our personal and the general mass’ favorites. Recent zombie flicks have been focusing on the gore; a huge factor that makes it a bit of a sensation to rake in viewers. While it is a formula that proved to be quite triumphant, there are just still some things that seem to be lost in the mix of blood and fun.
Train to Busan, Korea’s offering to the table that has been infested with the generics combines two of the most essential ingredients for a film like this-thematic profundity and greatly contained tension that singularly holds it all together to mold a sublime feature that assures to both knock you dead and make you feel inside. As the dread deviously creeps in the slowness of the pace, you are left with nothing but its bag of sharp tricks that is composed of bloody satisfaction done in incredibly marvelous fashion that presses you against the wall and rapidly bites with inspired pleasure. Its genius shows in almost every region; ranging from the survivalist atmosphere to the characters that makes everything flow smoothly, it interconnects every other aspects that lets itself jump to the realization of the chunkiness of the goods that it grips onto. Silence is manipulated at times to create some excitement for the things that lurk and are ready to attack, and it is a key asset that oftentimes lead to astonishing set pieces that are even undeniable of making Hollywood’s products of the same kind look as if they were thought up by someone who lacks the creativity and heart to make a feature that would be recognized for its palette of authentic taste.
Despite of those sounding like an irresistible treat (which it is), it is in Busan’s storytelling abilities where it excels the most-characters are made to look either likable, loathsome and even questionable; it deeply pokes at their flaws and strengths, and it actually makes us focus more on them than the bigger spectacle that lies just around the corner. A strong and emotional core between father and daughter is forged, and right from the very start up to the end-it’s highly likely that you’ll be attached to these two as they get torn apart from one another. Things don’t run quite aggressively either unlike the undead-you are given time to spend with these clueless, terror-stricken people, and the film does a great job at making you think and realize about who they really are beyond the surface.
In turn and in time, their different faces are shown just as their developments as “humans” and not even characters are excavated to make us truly feel what we should about them. Things like those make this zombie pic an effective drama, and you’d be glad and shocked to find out that it really is like that after all thanks to the incredible acting supported by a screenplay of equal precision. Whether you’re distraught by nasty behavior or appeased by heroic details, the pseudo-metaphorical nature of these personalities are stunning. Truly, what the film makes us ponder on is how much we should stick together and the circumstances and tragedy certainly conform to such ideas. Humanity is in fact, a huge theme that makes up the fabric of the entire film. For a setting such as a train, moments of lights and darkness-be it of visual exhilaration and emotional stimulation are superbly adorned and constructed, and they remarkably enhance the volumes of the messages that it sends out.
Momentous beats that vibrate through this vehicle pave the way for more of the same, and they get elevated as every other scene prior to those electrify. As we get on board the jaw-dropping, heart-smashing climax, our full selves are exhausted-sweat and tears drop, senses are sparked, and souls are illuminated. Moral values are undertaken just as this ride reaches its end, and an urge to re-watch it again and again is met. It achieves its goals shamelessly and with pride, and every act of its will isn’t ever dubious of becoming lackluster fodder for its viewers since everything that it schemes of conceives amazing bits and pieces that are somehow memorable. Impeccably enough, Train to Busan is an Asian cinematic wonder of sorts that reignites the fire that has been intermittently washed out by the thirst of literal and figurative mindless entertainment from a horror sub-genre that should also require guts and not just glorious violence.
* Train to Busan is rated R-13 by the MTRCB, and is still showing in Philippine cinemas from Axinite Digicinema Inc.